Challenges of the ecosystem service concept

The concept of ecosystem services is increasingly used in research, land use management and policy making. For the concept to be both a successful application within research and a practical implication in decision making, several challenges must be addressed carefully. The IFF-Lecture and Research Seminar will present some results and suggestions developed within an ongoing EU-FP7 research project OpenNESS by two international recognized experts, ROY HAINES-YOUNG and KURT JAX.


Untangling Ecosystem Services
Fabis Consulting Ltd, and Emeritus Professor, University of Nottingham

Abstract: A key concern at present is to make the concept of ecosystem services operational. That is – to get the idea it ‘used’ – not just in the environmental arena, but in decision making more generally. However, the task of operationalisation is a challenging one. Not only because the concept is itself a complex, multi-faced one, but also because it is often seen differently from different disciplinary perspectives. Moreover, in real-world applications experts and laypeople often have to work together, so that differences in understandings frequently become significant.
This presentation will discuss the role of conceptual frameworks in helping groups come together to solve the kinds of ‘wicked problem’ that exist at the interface of people and nature. In these situations, problems and problem solving strategies are usually poorly specified at the start, and deeper understandings can be only developed by the group working in iterative ways to build up a richer understanding of the issues. Researchers can play a significant role in this process of untangling ecosystem services by acting as ‘knowledge brokers’. The talk will consider how such work can be supported using social media tools to: map out sematic relationships between key concepts; to support knowledge elicitation, so that users can document what they know or what they have uncovered from their work; and, to provide a collaborative environment, in which ideas can be discussed, explored and refined.
For the most recent publication supporting this talk please follow: POTSCHIN, M.; R. HAINESYOUNG, R. FISH AND K. TURNER (eds.) (2016): Routledge Handbook of Ecosystem Services.
Routledge, London and New York, 630 pp.

Using human well-being-concepts as a problem-related entry point
Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Department of Conservation Biology
Prof. at Technische Universität München, Research Department Ecology and Ecosystem Management

Abstract: The yardstick for the evaluation of ecosystem services is their contribution to human well-being. While the biological and economic dimensions of ES have dealt with in much detail, detailed analyses and uses of the concept of human well-being are still rather scarce. Human well-being concepts provide, however, a major potential of linking the often rather abstract ES frameworks to real world problems. After all, the problems that are to be solved with the help of ES frameworks do not originate from nature, but from differing human needs and wants.
Using human well-being thus not as the end point in analysing the relations between nature (or ecosystems) and humans, but as the starting point offers new vistas to frame problems and guide research on ES. My contribution will thus exemplify concept(s) of human well-being and show how more detailed and context-dependent specification of human well-being can help to find a reflexive way for problem solving that also takes into account issues of social and environmental justice.


Tuesday, 13th December 2016, 18:15 Uhr

IFF, 1070 Wien, Schottenfeldgasse 29, 3.Stock/T2/Seminarraum 3a


IFF Lecture Haines-Young and Yax Invitation